Welcome to Snow’s Hillhouse Microfarm… a 3.5 Acre property located 10 km east of the West Kootenay mountain town of Nelson, BC, Canada.

The property is currently a single-owner smallholding, with 5 long-term residents, focused on becoming a self-sustaining, permaculture-based microfarm with a balanced mix of long-term and temporary residents. It’s an ambitious goal, and to get there we are looking for your help, talent, and experience.

Our primary goal at this stage is building community, creating healthy living strategies, and growing food, using permaculture principles as our guide. Residents share weekly meals, food, time, space, knowledge, skills, wisdom and creativity–and work together to create socially, ecologically, economically and spiritually mindful practices and systems.

About the land and buildings

The property is gently sloped at the bottom, with a steeper grade at the top. It faces south, with views of Kootenay Lake and the wild mountains beyond. There is an established high-production vegetable garden, a diversity of young fruit trees, numerous berry bushes, a good selection of herbs, and various perennial flowerbeds.   For information about our beautiful, abundant gardens, visit our Gardens page.

The property is at an elevation of about 600 metres. There is a good supply of water from two sources, a community water system from a nearby creek, and a deep well. The soil around here tends to be sandy loam, and the soil in the gardens has continually been enriched organically over the last 15 years. Nelson has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold and can be snowy while summers are warm and drier with cool temperatures during the night. The plant hardiness zone is considered to be zone 6.

A beautiful 3-bedroom house, built 15 years ago, sits overlooking the lower gardens. Above the main house is the brand new (2013) building that we call the Hillhouse.  The Hillhouse is an artistically-designed green building for community living and for hosting educational workshops focused on natural living, building and permaculture. For more information and photos of the Hillhouse and construction, visit our Hillhouse page and our Photo Gallery. The very top of the land consists of undeveloped hillside with young mixed-growth trees and bushes, perfect for establishing food forest.

Almost completed is a beautiful naturally built, earthen Sauna House to be enjoyed by residents, guests and workshop attendees.  We look forward to its completion soon.  It needs a little exterior work, the interior bench constructed and the outdoor shower installed.

What are we doing?

As mentioned on our home page, we continue to develop permaculture solutions and applications, focusing on maximizing the yield from our gardens. In future years we hope to create tent sites for short-term visitors and provide workshops and classes for keen learners from near and far. And we are transforming scrub into food forest, tending the new trees and bushes planted. We are growing an abundance of food crops and working toward becoming increasingly food-secure, aiming only to supplement with other foods and goods produced locally, organically, and with the care of each other and the earth in mind.

We have a beautiful space for meetings, classes and workshops that align with our mission and principles.  Let us know if you are looking for a place to host an event.

In 2013 we began organizing and hosting workshops and classes, led by various qualified instructors.  That was really exciting and a great source of community fun.  For more information about the workshops and classes we hosted and a list of potential future workshops we would be interested in hosting, go to Classes and Workshops.

What do we need?

We are particularly looking for people with any of the following strengths:

  • Community Development
  • Permaculture design and implementation,
  • Natural building skills,
  • Administration and planning,
  • Engineering,
  • Gardening,
  • Graphic Design,
  • Marketing,
  • Teaching skills,
  • Cooking and housekeeping ability

Types of Opportunities that Arise (visit our home page for news on current opportunities) 

  • INSTRUCTORS FOR CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS (more information below)


To develop, learn about, practice and promote a small-scale model for community living that is socially, economically and environmentally mindful, in order to improve the quality of life for present and future generations of humans and other living beings.


Our goal is to play a role in the transition to a higher quality of life by becoming a healthy, food-secure, land-based community that is an inspiration to others. We are here to learn to live in a community that fosters rewarding, healthy and creative living. We are here to develop the emotional maturity and practical skills required to respect the boundaries and bounties of nature, of ourselves, and of the others within our community.


1) We will develop and manage this small property in an ecologically mindful way for low-impact residential use, production of food and value-added products, and for the creation of space for the exchange of knowledge, skills and wisdom.

2) We will research, practice, demonstrate, teach and promote resilient models of living.

3) Our long-term residents we be provided with a healthy accommodation and an opportunity to grow food and share in the harvests.

4) We will create a place that values the transition of knowledge between different generations


We will serve our purpose and mission by adhering to the following guiding values and principles.

  1. Living on the land in socially, economically and ecologically mindful ways.
  2. Co-existing in a primarily drug and alcohol-free environment
  3. Continual learning and teaching.
  4. Employing sound economic planning.
  5. Using inclusive and transparent decision-making, with a clear structure for conflict resolution.
  6. Having an emphasis on personal spiritual development.
  7. Striving to grow everything we eat and to create a surplus. Striving to augment our food with as much locally and organically grown food as we can afford.
  8. Considering all the costs involved in our food choices and challenging ourselves to make changes that result in reducing our impact on each other and the natural systems we are part of.
  9. Reducing consumption. Conserving energy and resources. Producing no waste.
  10. Utilizing eco-friendly forms of transportation- i.e.: walking, cycling, car pooling, car-sharing, public transit
  11. Sharing and exchanging services with each other as a means to support each other
  12. Striving to maintain a visual aesthetic within the residences and on the property. Garbage as art is permissible, garbage lying around is unforgiveable.
  13. Individually and collectively functioning in an ethical and respectful manner when dealing with others.
  14. Agreeing to consider the impact of our actions and treat each other with kindness and compassion. Honoring our commitments to the each other, as a resident and as community members.
  15. Taking responsibility for our individual economic stability (beyond the share in harvest provided in your agreement as a resident and contributing community member).   If income can be generated within the community through the development of businesses, that could be a wonderful way to supplement resident(s) income.

 Opportunities for Partners and Investors

The owner, Paula Snow, is looking for a partner-investor(s) who fits well with the land and vision, to live on or off the farm, with the possibility of co-owning the Hillhouse Microfarm business that then would lease the land. Partners or investors who would best fit would be business-savvy, and able to manage or co-manage the gardens, and/or develop and administer other aspects of the business (Education, agritourism, and/or whatever we determine is the best fit in going forward).

There is limited space available at the farm for living quarters, but there will always be a number of options depending on the timing. Due to the nature of this kind of community, things can change in a heartbeat.  It’s not going to be a really good fit for a young family, or anyone with children or dogs. That is because the community is super-small, and there simply isn’t enough living space for extra small bodies or even the best behaved critters.

We would need to have a trial period of a duration to be agreed upon, to ensure we work well together. Either party would be able to terminate with two months’ notice. If your living space is within one of the two existing dwellings, you would have to be ok with sharing the space.

There are a multitude of options for other ecological businesses on the property.

We envision a number of possible scenarios for a partnership with the right person or persons.

Serious inquiries only.

Expertise During Development of the Microfarm and Hillhouse:

Paula Snow, principal owner, project leader     http://about.me/psnow

Paula Kiss, The Building Tree, Designer   http://buildingtree.ca/

Jan Steinman, EcoReality, Advisor      http://tinyurl.com/Jan-Steinman

Joern Wingender,Traditional Timber Framing Co., Builder      http://www.handwerk-bc.com/ttfc/index.html

Margaret Raymond, cognitive researcher, teacher, master gardener, caterer and entrepreneur

Brigid Weiler, master dyer, mycologist, soapmaker, instructor http://www.galawool.ca/    

Kata Polano, Kata has been building with natural materials since her intensive training in 2008. Her life as an artist comes in handy when designing, building, and customizing each project for her clients. She owns and operates Earthen Built, which places emphasis on creating not only a beautiful built environment, but a healthier one as well. Earthen Built specializes in natural wall systems, clay and lime plasters, earthen floors, sculptures, and glass art. http://www.earthenbuilt.com/